Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Saxet Gun Show

If you're going to be in San Antonio this weekend, I'll have a table at the Saxet Gun Show at the San Antonio Events Center. I'll have some blades, some non-blades, some pictures, and will be sharing the table with Tobin Nieto, another Neo-Tribal Metalsmith.

Hope to see you there!


Saxet Gun Show


San Antonio Events Center

Bush sword in the works

This one is being made for a very patient member of a forum in trade for a Hay Budden anvil.

The blade is approximately 16 inches long, with a false edge, integral guard, and double choils/finger notches. They would be great for choking up for carfully knocking small limbs off of a pole to smooth it up or other similar tasks. Triple hardened in veggie oil, multiple temper cycles. I'm working out a small warp right now. Long blades tend to warp during heat treatment, and the closer you forge to final shape, the more important it is to get it straight without grinding. I'm using a trick that is fairly new to me, flexing the blade a bit past straight with a C-clamp, a flat piece of steel, and a couple of washers for spacers, then give it another tempering cycle. It works well, but sometimes has to be done more than once.

Hopefully when I check on it in the morning, it'll be where it needs to be and I can proceed to wrapping and sealing the handle.

Got other bush swords in the works as well. :D

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dawg Skinner

A member of a forum who goes by the handle Dawgboy approached me with what he wanted in a knife, and we got down to designing it. After he saw my "primal/tactical" knives, he decided that he wanted a cord wrapped handle. He got to see a sneak preview of the scavenger blades that I posted recently (made from plow disk) to see the new style of cord wrapping and decided that he liked it. I used one of the hunters as a starting point and drew out a sketch, widening the blade and giving it an upswept tip. We made one alteration to it, and he gave me the go-ahead.

Here's what it looked like after I had it blanked out from a piece of plow disk. This is a stock removal blade; the only forging done to it was taking the curve out of it from being a plow disk, and stamping my touchmark in it.

I soaked the blank in vinegar overnight to clean the scale and rust off the blade while leaving the beautiful rust texture in the steel. After grinding, heat treatment, and wrapping the handle with hemp cord over leather slabs and a cotton Turk's head knot sealed in amber shellac, I sharpened it to shaving sharp. And this is what it looked like just before I packed it up and sent it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Available Work

This will change depending on what is in inventory.  Prices do not include finalized shipping and handling.  If interested in something here, e-mail me at  NOTE:  I AM NOT CURRENTLY TAKING NEW ORDERS FOR FORGED WORK. 

Mid-tech knives, tomahawks, and ST-1 defense tools are available directly from the dealers listed below:

Blue Line Gear



I am making an effort to have at least one blade a month available to the public on a first-come-first-serve basis.  They are posted on my Instagram (helmforge) and Facebook (James Helm) accounts and tend to get claimed pretty quickly. 
Thanks everyone for your interest in my work and your patience!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scavenger Blades

These are yet another, different direction from how I typically make knives; they're stock removal. :) The steel of these is plow disk from my family's farm, which works out to be approximately 1080 high carbon steel. They were cut out, the profiles cleaned up, then they were heated and flattened, I stamped my touchmark, and then they were normalized multiple times. Straightening and stamping is all the hammering they've seen. The rest is grinding.

The steel is about 1/8" thick. I tried out a new handle wrap method with these, one I have seen several different places. There is a slab of leather on either side of the tang, extending the full length. The hole at the end of the tang also goes through the leather. Then I wrapped hemp cord on top of the leather, going 'round and 'round through the hole at the butt end before anchoring it. After tying the Turk's head knot at the front of the wrap using black cotton cord, I sealed the wrap with shellac. It ends up being a very comfortable, slightly flexible grip.

The texture on the steel is rust pitting from lying years and years in the dirt under live oak trees. I love the aesthetics of combining the works of nature harmoniously with the works of man.

The Bowie has a 6 1/2" blade with an overall length of 11 3/4". It also has the first triple strand Turk's head knot I've done in a while. The others have double strand Turk's heads.

The hunter/EDC knives have blades 4" long with overall lengths about 8 1/8".

The quasi-Nessmuk has a blade 3 3/4" long and overall length of 8 1/4"

I'll definitely be continuing this train of thought.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Neo-Tribal blades... got me thinking...

These are a bit different from my typical work, and are leading to even more different blades from me in the future.

They all except the little one with the ring are forged from Ford F-250 coil spring, multiple quenched in veggie oil and multiple tempered. Cotton cord Turk's head knots, hemp cord wrap, natural and black shellac sealer, shaving sharp edge. The usual. They are a smidge thicker than I typically do, with the Bowies starting at 5/16" at the blade/tang transition and the utility/EDC knives starting at about 1/4" at the same spot, all tapering distally to the point.

These first two are pretty close to what I've been doing, except for being beefier. 4 1/2" blade, 9" OAL

4" blade, 9" OAL

The Bowies are what have really started the gears turning.

This one got dubbed "Thunderdome" by another knifemaker. :D 6 1/2" blade, 11 3/4" OAL

6" blade, 11" OAL

And this little dude is quite cute. :) This one is a scrap piece of leaf spring left from forging a bush sword, with the thickness at the tang/blade transition 3/16", blade length 2 3/8", and 7" OAL.

So now, looking at the Bowies and all, and with other things going on in my mind to help fuel the gears turning, my mind is contemplating the phrase "primal/tactical". This could turn interesting.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Saxet Gun Show

Hard to believe a month has already flown by!

If you're going to be in San Antonio this weekend, I'll have a table at the Saxet Gun Show at the San Antonio Events Center. I'll have some blades, some non-blades, some pictures, and will be sharing the table with Tobin Nieto, another Neo-Tribal Metalsmith. Hopefully I will be joined for at least part of the time by my loverly girlfriend as well.

Hope to see you there!


Saxet Gun Show


San Antonio Events Center

Making a bush sword (at least part of it)

These were some progress shots taken by the photographer to whom I traded a bush sword (Paul Cruz). This isn't all of the process, of course, but it gives at least some idea of what's involved in making a bush sword.

Processing the steel:

After all the forging is completed, the profile is finalized on a grinder, and the blade has the scale cleaned off, filing the primary bevel:

Heating the blade for the first quench:

This is my favorite picture from the whole photo shoot: :)

The first quench into veggie oil: Note that the camera isn't necessarily showing the color in the steel accurately.

Checking with a file to ensure that the blade hardened properly (it did):

Time to do it again: This happens three times unless there is a warp that requires re-heating to fix.

Many warps (and long blades are more prone to that than short blades) can be fixed without reheating if you work quickly and carefully. There is a short time window after the quench before the steel crystals fully set up, and during that time the blade can be flexed back straight. Here I am doing that using my post vise and my vertical quench tank to flex against:

Who is that handsome devil with the stylishly long sideburns? :D